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J Trauma Stress. 2019 Apr;32(2):196-205. doi: 10.1002/jts.22392. Epub 2019 Mar 26.

Cumulative Disaster Exposure and Mental and Physical Health Symptoms Among a Large Sample of Gulf Coast Residents.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, Montclair State University, Montclair, New Jersey, USA.
2
Social & Scientific Systems, Inc., Silver Spring, Maryland, USA.
3
Epidemiology Branch, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Durham, North Carolina, USA.
4
Department of Epidemiology, Gillings School of Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.
5
Dean's Office, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Abstract

in English, Chinese, Spanish

A large body of research has linked disaster exposure to adverse mental and physical health outcomes. Few studies, however, have explored the cumulative impact of exposure to multiple disasters. Participants (N = 8,366) from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Gulf Long-Term Follow-Up Study were classified as having been exposed to both, either, or neither Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill (DHOS). Participants also reported on a range of mental and physical health symptoms. Logistic regression models found that participants who were exposed to both disasters had significantly higher odds of probable generalized anxiety disorder, odds ratio (OR) = 1.72, 95% CI [1.52, 1.96]; major depression, OR = 1.53, 95% CI [1.32, 1.77]; and posttraumatic stress disorder, OR = 2.51, 95% CI [2.03, 3.10], than participants who were exposed to only one disaster, ps < .001. Additionally, a linear regression model found that participants who were exposed to both disasters had significantly more physical health symptoms at the time of the spill than those who were exposed to only one disaster, B = 0.99, SE = .20, p < .001. The results indicate that cumulative disaster exposure confers enhanced risk for adverse mental and physical health outcomes. The findings demonstrate that screening for prior exposure among disaster-affected individuals might identify those at greatest risk for adverse health outcomes.

PMID:
30913348
PMCID:
PMC6476642
[Available on 2020-04-01]
DOI:
10.1002/jts.22392

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